Fri, Jul 12, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Start-up begins production of drinking straws made of rice hulls and tea leaves

By Chen Fong-li and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Inventor Huang Chien-chung, left, on Monday in Nantou County holds eco-friendly drinking straws made from rice hulls and waste tea leaves while a colleague displays a gold medal and special jury prize certificate from an inventors’ exposition last year in Montepellier, France.

Photo: Chen Fong-li, Taipei Times

Inventor Huang Chien-chung (黃千鐘) on Sunday said that his company has started production of eco-friendly drinking straws made of rice hulls and waste tea leaves.

Huang, founder of start-up Ju Tian Cleantech Co, said that the nation’s agricultural industry generates about 3 million tonnes of rice hulls each year, providing an ample source for hull straws that promise to reduce waste.

Meanwhile, the tea leaf straws were developed separately to utilize waste from the tea-baking process, including leaves and stems, he said, adding that tea plantations in Nantou County’s Mingjian Township (名間) are supplying the materials.

The cost of the straws, which are biodegradable, is a few cents on the New Taiwan dollar, or marginally more expensive than plastic straws, Huang said, adding that they have a mild, but pleasant scent.

Ju Tian Cleantech is best known for inventing sugar cane straws that received recognition at an inventors’ exposition in Montpellier, France, as well as eco-friendly certification from the Environmental Protection Administration and Germany-based Din Certco.

After accepting an invitation from the Lyon municipal government to open a branch in the city, Ju Tian Cleantech joined France’s trade association for producers of alternatives to plastics and is eligible for French government funding, Huang said.

The company is working with French vineyards to make pomace-based furniture, he said, adding that its sugar cane straws are being marketed in nations such as Canada, France, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and the US.

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